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SKILLS IN LONG ESSAY WRITING &

RESEARCH/PROJECT WORK
LECTURE 1
INTRO
I realize that you don’t know much about
research and writing dissertations. But tell
you what, we better start now before it is too
late…
 How shall I torture you today. Put you in
boiling oil or …….. hmm…I think I make you
write a dissertation..
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What is Dissertation
 The Cambridge Dictionary defines a dissertation as a "long
piece of writing on a particular subject“
 A dissertation is an extended piece of writing based on
extended reading and some independent research at
Undergraduate or Masters level.
 Your dissertation, or research project, is probably the single
most important assignment you will undertake whilst at
university, and is often a key indicator of your true
capabilities as a student and researcher.

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WHAT IS A DISSERTATION?
 It is a compulsory part of your degree.
 Should reflect independent, self-motivated research.
 Must demonstrate an understanding of theoretical
foundations and research methodology.
 It must be supervised by a member of academic staff or
faculty.
 In the 1st semester, you must submit a synopsis of your
research proposal and make a 10 –15 minute presentation (in
some instances).
 In the 2nd semester you must submit the dissertation
document .

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X’TICS YOU MUST HAVE
 Its imperative that students make every effort to write a long essay
research work or undertake a project

 It is required of students therefore to be/have


 a strong and abiding interest in a particular subject or topic;
 an inclination to do focused, independent work requiring months of
concentrated effort with little oversight or instruction;
 a love of the writing and revision process;
 a need to pose and seek answers to specific questions;
 a desire to communicate acquired knowledge to an audience of one’s
peers.
STEPS INVOLVED IN WRITING A LONG
ESSAY
 The first step is to choose a topic.

 Next is the writing of the thesis proposal, which entails


 a significant narrowing of the topic
 the development of a focused research question
 a clear statement of your precise position on the topic.

 The third step is to engage or read other literatures to be informed


 The fourth step is to plan or develop a supposed methodology

 Next is to write and get feedback on your first chapter and all
subsequent chapters (or sections) of the long essay as you carry out
the research.
 Data collection and presentation

 Writing of the report

 Next is to get final feedback on a complete draft of your complete


essay.
 The next step is to use this feedback to make final revisions to
the long essay.

 The final step is to submit the revised thesis in a format


acceptable to the school.

 Each of these steps is important, and none of them can


be rushed or skipped over without problems arising as
a result.
CHALLENGES OR PITFALLS
 Here are some big ones:
 (1) choosing a topic you have no real excitement about

 (2) choosing a topic that is too broad and/or ambitious

 (3) finding literature and reading them

 (4) reading and taking numerous notes on books and articles


with no real bearing on your argument
 (5) moving from the proposal stage to the writing stage without a
highly refined research question or statement of position on the
topic

 (6) writing a thesis that presents your research and reading but
makes no real argument in the process

 (7) taking too long to write each chapter, and then giving your
supervisors too little time to respond to what you’ve written
 (8) not leaving enough time for revision

 (9) paying others to write for you. **Don’t ever do that

 (10) procrastination, (11) procrastination, (12) procrastination.


CHOOSING A TOPIC
 Identify/choose a subject (topic) you love or at least feel strongly
about.

 Check some of the subjects you have been taught and you may
consider a topic you enjoyed most

 Read around the subject to know what has been done or written
about it

 Examine the subject/topic in relation to your


context/setting/environment/community
Narrowing the topic
 Ask yourself, "What am I adding to the existing conversation on
this topic?

 How much of what I am saying about the topic has never been
said before?"

 Make an appointment or consult a researcher and ask this person


for tips on how to go about researching your topic.

 You may consider meeting with other students to fine tune the
topic
 EXERCISE:
 Attempt to identify a topic that you may want to write on for a
research work
How will you be assessed?
 In the 1st semester, you must submit a synopsis of your
research proposal and make a 10 –15 minute presentation (in
some instances).
 In the 2nd semester you must submit the dissertation
document .

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IT STARTS WITH A RESEARCH
PROPOSAL?
 A document that is typically written by a scientist or academic
which describes the ideas for an investigation on a certain
topic. The research proposal outlines the process from
beginning to end and may be used to request financing for the
project, certification for performing certain parts of research
of the experiment, or as a required task before beginning a
college dissertation.
 A research proposal is intended to convince others that you
have a worthwhile research project and that you have the
competence and the work-plan to complete it

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…A Proposal
 The main purpose of a research proposal is to show that the
problem you propose to investigate is significant enough to
warrant the investigation, the method you plan to use is
suitable and feasible, and the results are likely to prove
fruitful and will make an original contribution. In short,
what you are answering is 'will it work?'
 It can be seen as a synopsis; a comprehensive summary of
your intended research project no longer than 6-8 pages
should be submitted at the end of the 1st semester.
 You would also have to make a presentation of your
synopsis lasting 10 -15 minutes at the end of the first
semester.
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What should be included in the Proposal?
 Title
 Introduction/background/overview
 Statement of Problem
 Research Aims/Objectives
 Research Questions
 Significance /importance of the Study
 Scope and Limitation of the Study
 Operational Definitions/definition of terms
 Proposed Methodology
 Literature review
 Organization of Study
 Bibliography/References

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Title
This should be brief, yet informative.
Examples: 1. The impact of domestic violence on the
development of aggression in children (This is a
clear, informative title)
2.Domestic violence and aggression in
children (This title is too short and not very clear
or informative)
3. At study investigating the impact of
domestic violence on the development of
aggression in a group of school aged children
(This title is too long.)

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1.0 Introduction/Background to the
Study/Overview of the Study
 Should provide a background to the study,
starting at a fairly general level and focusing
down to the specifics of the study.
 Must not be too long – approximately about 1-2
pages.
 “The introduction is the part of the paper that
provides readers with the background
information for the research reported in the
paper. Its purpose is to establish a framework for
the research, so that readers can understand how
it is related to other research” (Wilkinson, 1991,
p. 96)
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1.1 Statement of the Problem
 “The problem statement describes the context for the study and it also
identifies the general analysis approach” (Wiersma, 1995, p. 404)
 It is important in a proposal that the problem stand out—that the reader
can easily recognize it. Sometimes, obscure and poorly formulated
problems are masked in an extended discussion. In such cases, reviewers
and/or committee members will have difficulty recognizing the problem
 A problem statement should be presented within a context, and that
context should be provided and briefly explained, including a discussion of
the conceptual or theoretical framework in which it is embedded. Clearly and
succinctly identify and explain the problem within the framework of the
theory or line of inquiry that undergirds the study. This is of major
importance in nearly all proposals and requires careful attention

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1.2 Research Aims and Objectives
 The objective of the research is stated to clearly guide the
supervisor/reviewer what exactly informed the research to be carried
 Formulating aims and objectives for your research studies helps sculpt and
guide your work after you've decided on a topic
 A research proposal's aims are statements that broadly point out what
you hope to accomplish and your desired outcomes from the research.
Aims focus on long-term intended outcomes -- your aspirations in
reference to the research Pate (2015).
 Objectives lay out how you plan to accomplish your aims. While aims are
broad in nature, objectives are focused and practical. They tend to
pinpoint your research's more immediate effects (Pate, 2015)

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1.3 Research Questions
 Research questions are the research objectives which are
translated into questions
 A research question poses a relationship between two or more
variables but phrases the relationship as a question
 The questions here are mostly the guideline for the whole
research.
 It has influence on what to include in the literature review and also
helps in designing questionnaires

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1.4 Significance of study
 Indicate how your research will refine, revise, or extend existing
knowledge in the area under investigation. It simply means how
important your study, research is.
 Write the significance of the study by looking into the general
contribution of your study, such as its importance to society as a whole,
then proceed downwards—towards its contribution to individuals and
that may include yourself as a researcher.
 When thinking about the significance of your study, ask yourself the
following questions
 What suggestions for subsequent research arise from the
findings?
 What will the results mean in practice
 Will results influence programs, methods, and/or intervention
 Will results contribute to the solution of problems?

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1.5 Scope of the Study
 It include time /space or geography or disciplinary
 It is the boundaries or limits within which the study needs to
be kept.
 This is basically setting the boundary of your work.
 This will help one to assess whether the research is feasible
or not and also gives an idea of what is expected.
 The scope of a research could depend on a number of factors,
such as resources – time, fund, manpower, and so on;
accessibility to the information, subject, and so on.
1.6 Operational Definitions/Definition
of key terms
 Usually, there are main terms related to the study that
require to be specified or clarified in order to provide a
correct understanding of the study on the part of the reader.
 These terms need to be defined precisely and concisely
 This should not be necessarily a dictionary definitions but a
researcher’s definition; the way he or she understands it.
1.7 Proposed Methodology
This is a detailed account of how you are
planning to conduct your study and should cover
all the relevant practical aspects. You should
mention here whether it is Survey Research,
Case Studies Research, etc and whether you’d
be using quantitative methods, qualitative
method or both.

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1.8 Proposed Literature Review
 The purpose of the literature review is to situate your research in the
context of what is already known about a topic
 This list of sources does not have to be exhaustive, but should be adequate
to demonstrate the existing gaps or problems.
 The literature review accomplishes several important things.

 It shares with the reader the results of other studies that are closely
related to the study being reported (Fraenkel & Wallen, 1990).
 It relates a study to the larger, ongoing dialogue in the literature about a
topic, filling in gaps and extending prior studies (Marshall & Rossman,
1989).
 It provides a framework for establishing the importance of the study, as
well as a benchmark for comparing the results of a study with other
findings.
 The flow should probably move from the more general to the more
focused studies, or perhaps use historical progression to develop the
story. It need not be exhaustive; relevance is 'key'.
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1.9Organization of Study
 This basically talks about what each chapter of the main work
contains.
 The content of each chapter of the main dissertation to be done
is stated in this section of the proposal
 For example, the writer will include what will be in chapter one,
chapter two, three and so on.
 Ideally for academic purposes, chapter one is the introduction,
chapter two includes the literature review, chapter three talks
about the methodology, chapter four deals with the discussion of
results and finally, chapter five deals with summary and
conclusion.
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Time frame Bibliography/
You can present this in a
graph form. Indicate
Reference
the anticipated time Any books, papers, articles,
you would spend for web-sites that you have
each step of your consulted for this
dissertation. particular study must be
reported in the
standardized format.
Appendices
Typically you can include the list of stimulus
materials you might be using, copies of
questionnaires, scales, interview schedules etc
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GETTING STARTED
 Research Topic
 Research Proposal
 Literature Review
 Method, Procedure and Analysis

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Getting Started
Avoid this type of Jargon
 "bad", "good", "nice", "terrible", "stupid"
A scientific dissertation does not make moral
judgments
 "perfect"
Nothing is perfect.
 "an ideal solution"
You're judging again

 "lots of, kind of, type of, something like”


vague & colloquial

 "actually, really"
define terms precisely to eliminate the need to clarify

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Style and Structure
 It is recommended that you follow certain convention to
facilitate the writing process and make your dissertation
readable.
 It is useful to look at other dissertation and get an idea about the
approach that people adopt to present their findings and
arguments.
 Do not wait for your supervisor to tell you what fonts, size and
spacing you should use. That is a waste of time and it shows
that you did not do your homework.
 Sample dissertations are available from the AUCC Library, you
can check them out.

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Font, Spacing and Length
 The preferred font type is Times Roman (12 points).
 Other typefaces may be acceptable (check with your
supervisor).
 Use double-line spacing for the dissertation text.
 Justify all your text in the dissertation body.
 The dissertation must not exceed 15,000 words
(excluding tables, figures and appendices).
 Most dissertations are between 50 and 80 pages
(double spaced).

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Font, Spacing and Length
 Figures inserted in the dissertation should appear close
to where they are referenced in the text.
 The usual convention of the figure followed by the
figure title shall be followed.
 Use the Chapter/Figure number convention to label the
figures in the dissertation. For example, Figure 1.2
refers to the second figure of chapter 1.
 A List of Figures and Tables must be included after the
content page of dissertation

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Documentation Style
 Select documentation style and apply it
consistently and carefully throughout your
dissertation.
 For simplicity and consistency, we recommend
APA style.

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Order of presentation
 Title Page
 Acknowledgments
 Table of Contents
 List of Figures
 List of Tables
 Abstract
 Content of Dissertation
 References
 Appendices

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Chapter One: Introduction
 Introduce the subject area (Overview and
definition) and explain the research topic.
 State your research question(s) or research
objective(s).
 Scope and limitations of the study.
 Importance of the topic you have selected.
 This Chapter should be revised after writing
Chapter 2 (Literature Review)
 Keep introduction shorts and focused

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Chapter two: Literature Review
 It is a review of what has been published on
that topic so that you do not duplicate
someone else’s work.
 Conduct a thorough literature search before
designing your methodology and collecting
your data.
 The literature review should provide context
and clarify the relationship between your
topic and previous work in that area.

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Chapter Two
 When writing the literature review, present
major themes, theories, and ideas that have
been published in the area, and the findings
of related studies.
 Conclude the review of the literature with a
short section that describes your topic,
highlighting why it is important to address
the problem you have investigated.

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Chapter Three: Methodology
 This chapter describes exactly the steps that you took
to investigate your research problem.
 Explains your research design
 the methodology that you selected (survey, interviews,
historical research, document analysis or extended
literature review for example),

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Chapter Three
 The instruments that you used and how they were
developed, the sample that you selected, and the
description of your data collection process.
 Copies of correspondence, instruments if you used any
(questionnaires or interview scripts), raw data if
appropriate and other items relating to the
methodology are included as appendices, with
references from the appropriate place in this chapter.

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Chapter Four: Data Analysis and
Presentation
 It describes what you found in your research,
without discussion, interpretation or reference to
the literature.
 Just the facts, presented as tables, figures,
interview summaries and/or descriptions of what
you found that is important and noteworthy.
 The objective is to present a simple, clear and
complete account of the results of your research.

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Chapter Five: Summaries, Conclusion
and Recommendation
 Relate your findings to your original statement of
the problem and your literature review.
 Begin by briefly summarizing the previous
chapters, then discuss what you found.
 Ask yourself why the results were what they were,
and then try to provide meaningful answers to the
question.
 Feel free to interpret objectively and subjectively
and to make references to what others have said on
the subject.

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Chapter Five
 Make sure that every conclusion you draw is
defensible and not just your own personal
opinion.
 Make recommendations relating to the problem
that you investigated, for example by making
practical suggestions on how to improve the
situation in the organization in which your
research took place.
 Make recommendations for areas that require
further study.

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Final Remarks
 The final dissertation should be (3 copies) Two hard-
cover bounded using a Black with Gold lettering
(not exceeding 16 pts) and one comb bounded copy
 The year (i.e B.A (2019)) denotes the year when the
dissertation is submitted.
 The author's name is abbreviated on the spine in the
order of: full surname and initials of middle and
first names.
 The title may need to be abbreviated if it is too long
to fit the spine. Get the approval from your
supervisor on the abbreviated title.

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Class Quiz
 List all the components of a research proposal and explain
the content of one of the components.